Nutmeg is the original Autism Life Dog who inspired and developed much of the therapy programme working with Danielle. Even at ten years old, Nutmeg continues to be an integral part of the team, providing therapy sessions, meeting families and visiting organisations to spread the word of the work of Autism Life Dogs.
My son Jay is on the spectrum and had a terrible phobia of dogs – so much so that if he saw one he would run as far away as he could from them– often across the road into oncoming traffic.
Although we couldn’t have an Autism Life Dog full-time, Jay did a few therapy sessions with Nutmeg and I couldn’t believe what a difference it made and how quickly! He was able to get over his dog phobia and now he loves all dogs (especially Nutmeg).
Even more amazing was how there was a noticeable difference in Jay’s behaviour almost immediately – he was engaged with the tasks and just loved doing them with a dog. It taught him so much about responsibility and personal space and his meltdowns were considerably reduced when he was working with Nutmeg.
Jay calls Nutmeg his 'best friend' and is always asking to see her!
Cookie Blue was our first ever Autism Life Dog and lives with her Forever Family and her best friend Daniel.
We got an Autism Life Dog for so many reasons. Daniel was non-verbal and as such it was very difficult to understand his needs and what he ultimately wants. Throughout Daniel’s life he has had a few interactions with dogs and on every occasion we have seen a warmth and glow emanating from him. Daniel has a natural affinity to dogs and this is why we believed an Autism Life Dog would be not only a continued form of therapy to aid in his development, but also a great companion and playmate for Daniel and a welcome addition to our family.
Daniel used to be in his own little world but has developed a loving, playful relationship with Cookie. As time has gone on he has started using words and using them with meaning. He is a lot more settled, less agitated and his meltdowns have reduced significantly. We used to struggle with Daniel running away but he will never do this if Cookie is with him.
Without a doubt having Cookie Blue has benefited Daniel and has changed the dynamics of our family for the better. Having a child with autism is a challenge but Cookie makes it a happier environment. She is part of our family and I couldn't see our life without her.
There are so many positive benefits she has brought to our family and I would tell any other parent thinking of getting an Autism Life Dog to definitely do it!
Lexi is a beautiful golden Labrador who loves playing the games and activities of the Autism Life Dog therapy programme with her best friend Jack.
We decided to get an Autism Life Dog to see if it would help with Jack's speech, behaviour, anxiety and aggression. We were at a really low time and thought it would be worth a try as we couldn't think of anything else to help him.
In the very first couple of weeks of getting Lexi we noticed quite a few changes in Jack and so had our friends and family. And they were positive ones!
Coming from using only a handful of words and Makaton, he is attempting a lot of words (not all are clear, but at least he is trying) and attempting 2-3 word sentences!
His anxiety has dramatically dropped and there is now no more screaming when I drop him off at nursery.
And behaviour-wise, for me is the best part. I am no longer a punch bag - since having Lexi this has happened at most, a couple of times. This would be a regular occurrence throughout the day from the moment he woke until he went to sleep. I haven't been bitten once - this also happened on a daily basis.
Using the therapy program is easy, most of which Jack can do on his own with Lexi - who enjoys it as much as he does! And they follow each another everywhere!
My advice to any other parent thinking of getting an Autism Life Dog would be definitely do it! If it could help your child in one way, it will be worth it. We would have been happy with that. But helping Jack in as many ways as it has only makes me wish I had found out about Autism Life Dogs earlier!
Having an Autism Life Dog has immensely changed our lives and for the better. We have benefited so much in a short period and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us!
Renee learnt the program to play with her best friend 4 year old Rhys who struggled with social interaction, sensory issues and high anxiety. Now they are the best of friends and share a lifetime of fun, smiles and waggy tails
We found out about Autism Life Dogs from a friend who had met Nutmeg and the Autism Life Dogs team at the Autism Show. Rhys had responded positively to dogs previously and I had looked into Dogs for the Disabled and Support Dogs who had put a halt to applications due to the high demand.
I didn't want to get a puppy without any support as I felt this could be very hard work and not be beneficial for Rhys if I was getting stressed with a new puppy. Autism Life Dogs seemed like a really happy medium as Rhys doesn't need physical support he needs help with sensory issues/ socialising and communication
Rhys is non-verbal so does get very frustrated and Renee has coped really well with his unpredictability.
On our second day together, Renee was very tired after a long walk with us and Rhys kindly covered her with his Disney blankets and put her head on his pillow. He was also watching a film on his Kindle Tablet and put this in front of her so she could watch it whilst she was having a rest. I think they will become best friends.
The team at Autism Life Dogs has been a great support to us and I know I can call on them at anytime for advice on behaviour for both Rhys and Renee.
Milo is such a handsome boy and incredibly gentle soul who lives with his forever family and his best friend 9 year old Hannah. In fact he is such a beautiful soul that as well as being a very special Forever Friend himself, Milo is also the Daddy to some of our very special Autism Life Dog puppies.
Milo is lovely and is a much-loved member of our family. Everyone loves him - even the cat!
He has brought so much joy and love to our family and now we couldn't imagine life without him!
Rufus is a handsome and very clever boy who just loves to play the therapy games with his best friend Logan.
Our dog Rufus has made a massive difference in my son's life, giving him the confidence and support to help him in the community. Before my son had Rufus by his side, Logan would struggle to even be in an outside environment - he's not even attempted to abscond since he's been with Rufus. Logan is more confident, willing to go places and Rufus is always there to intervene if Logan becomes anxious. He is his best friend. Watching our son’s self-esteem grow day by day is wonderful. It's amazing the difference you have made to our son's life.
The therapy program has even helped Logan in things like turn-taking, and social interaction - he will even talk to people while waiting in queues - something he hated and would lash out before (the topic of conversation is always about his Rufus of course).
Logan really enjoys the therapy games - especially ‘Pick a Hand’ and ‘Hide and Seek’ and hearing our son laugh and get excited makes us feel so happy, to know he is a happier content little boy.
Poppy is a gorgeous girl who trained on our bespoke training programme. Poppy provides her therapy to all the children at Manor Brent School - a special setting with over 70% of learners on the autism spectrum.
Almost two years ago we acquired a Golden retriever pup (3 months old) with the view to train this dog as a service/therapy dog to support our learners. We are aware of how beneficial a trained dog can be to children with special learning needs especially in promoting functional communication.
Our school dog ‘Poppy’ has been at school every day term since November 2014 and has become a valued member of our school community.
Now that Poppy has this specialist training she is even more wonderful and so patient and calm around our learners. She now appears to have matured and can follow directions from members of staff. We are looking forward to implementing the programme in our school so that Poppy can help facilitate therapy and skill development.
Chloe is one of the youngest in the Autism Life Dog family and is at the very early stages of her journey to become a special therapy dog to help her best friend Ewan.
We were fortunate to be signposted to Autism Life Dogs after we had experienced theft from a corrupt provider who stole our sons fundraising funds for an autism support dog.
Our confidence was shattered and we had lost hope in ever being able to get our son a support dog, and that all changed when we met the Autism Life Dogs Team who were fantastic!
We were then introduced to Chloe; and she came to live with us as a puppy. Chloe and Ewan got the chance to grow up together which has helped create a special bond between them. Ewan was very isolated but that has changed since getting Chloe. He's always playing with her and giving her cuddles, and he doesn't normally cuddle people.
We have had fantastic support from the team and we already seeing the difference in Ewan’s confidence when out in the community. Chloe helps Ewan remain calm and focused and minimises the risk of him running off or becoming anxious.
Ewan has started to come out of his shell and he and Chloe are inseparable. As they grow up together we hope that their friendship continues to grow, which is made much easier by the support from Autism Life Dogs. We highly recommend them to others, and we cannot thank them enough for what they have done to help Ewan and us as a family.”
Chester is a smiley handsome boy who lives with his Forever Family and supports his friend Ethan.
We are really thankful to have Chester be part of our family and are all so happy! Chester is happy too and everyone who meets him seems to fall in love with his smile and charm. He is brilliant and we are smitten with him - it's like he has always been part of our unit. We enjoy days out at the park, we went to Pizza Hut and also to the library and Chester was a superstar! He also gives lovely cuddles and 'squishes'.
Thank you for everything you have done for our family.
Hero is a very special boy who went to live with his Forever Family in July 2016. He has been supporting his Forever Friend Santino at home and in the community and the two are becoming the best of friends.
Hero is doing very well! We have been to the cinema twice now, the hospital, opticians and some other shops. My daughter Star is teaching Hero to fetch Santino's clothes to him in the morning in the hope of encouraging him to dress himself.
He follows me everywhere - so cute. He is great with Santino and loves being cuddled and doing squishes with him!
One thing that Santino said brought tears to my eyes. He was sat playing with Hero and giggling away which is quite unusual and said "All Superheros have a special power, my Hero's super power is making me giggle".
Daisy is a sweet girl who has made the best of friends with her Forever Friend Benedict.
Daisy has been with our family supporting our son Benedict for just over two months and she has quite literally transformed our lives. She is a constant support to Benedict and is most definitely his best friend.
Since her arrival we have noticed a marked reduction in the number of meltdowns and when they do happen he is more likely to calm down quicker than he did before we had Daisy. His anxieties have reduced dramatically and when he does become anxious Daisy will often distract him.
As a family we have a new positive focus in Daisy and we have been able to enjoy days out more frequently because Benedict feels able to access the outside world more.
There has also been a lot of positive feedback from friends and teachers as they have noticed changes in Benedict’s behaviour and learning since Daisy’s arrival with us.
We are so lucky to have Daisy as a part of our family and we look forward to seeing the relationship between Benedict and Daisy develops further in the future.
Ruby is a sweet girl who supports her best friend Sid, who has autism and cerebral palsy.
Ruby is doing fantastic with our family she has definitely made a difference to us!
Sid loves to interact with her and she is definitely his best friend he asks for a kiss from her at least half a dozen times a day and it is lovely to see him bond with her. He recently asked for her paw for the first time without me prompting it and she gave it to him so gently it made my heart bleed with pride.
It is still very early in the bonding stages but we are on the right track and for once feel positive about the future.
Thank you so much - you are such a fantastic team. Keep up the great work you really are making a difference to peoples lives!
Bella is a beautiful chocolate girl who is supporting her forever friend Leo.
Our beautiful 16-month-old Bella arrived mid-October 2016 to join our family as Leo's assistance dog.
She has a loving nature and seemed tolerant of Leo's needs right from our first Playdate. With the flick of her tail and a lick she interrupts his meltdowns from the first meeting. She was perfect.
Bella is calm and seeks to be with Leo (unless Mum is cooking!) she has adapted so well to life in our family.
Bella has enabled us to easily zip around the supermarket, helping Leo to stay calm in a very challenging environment. What is beautiful is unprompted Leo will kiss Bella, throw her a ball, they show no fear around each other and their relationship is growing daily.
Leo is 3 1/2 years old and since having Bella his language has started to develop - a most wonderful unexpected gift that Bella could have given us. "Hello Puppy", "quiet" and "forward" are said often through the day now.
Ball-mad Bella loves to play and enjoys the Autism Life Dog Therapy programme. Bella certainly wears her working jacket with pride!
She completes our family. We love her and she us in return - autism has at last brought smiles to our hearts thanks to Bella.
She is a joy to have in all our lives. Thank you Autism Life Dogs!
Woody is a special boy and the Forever Friend of Ben, a young man who lives in supported living.
"Woody manages to capture the hearts of everyone that meets him. He is a very loving dog who loves nothing more than snuggling up for a cuddle!
His favourite past time is without a doubt ball play and the time spent with Ben is going incredibly well. They are perfectly matched - Woody loves cuddles and Ben loves cuddling.
Staff have reported that Woody was that constant positive for Ben which is brilliant news. Woody lifts the mood instantly simply by being around."
Ben's Mum says "he is taking his responsibilities very seriously to the amusement of everyone and believes he is a Dad now who has a son. Woody seems to know why he is with Ben and follows him everywhere. Although they haven't been together long they have bonded really well and have already started to have adventures. We can all see that Ben is already gaining the benefit of having his own dog".
Chief went to live with his forever family in March 2017 and has been working his magic with his special ways.
Since we brought him home, Chief has been such a wonderful, positive addition to our family. He's a very gentle, loving presence, and Noah definitely likes having him around. After only five weeks, he has started to approach Chief and kiss him, and more recently, picked up his food bowl and brought it to him. He will now come when called to help feed Chief. Chief is very gentle with Noah - he lets Noah rub his face all over him, and is beginning to go and sit with him, even though Noah can't call him as he is non-verbal.
Walking with the dog seems to make Noah more flexible about where we go, so we don't have to stick rigidly to our usual places and circuits, and we can walk further, which means Noah is sleeping better. I think it's too much of a coincidence to be nothing to do with the dog.
Having Chief around has changed the dynamics of the family and Noah is now engaging far more with his sister Gabriella, interacting and showing her far more affection. It's so rewarding for her and an effect we didn't actually expect. We thought Chief would be like another sibling for her, and he is, but she is playing more and more with Noah.
We feel very lucky to have this opportunity to help move things forward, and so grateful to the Autism Life Dogs team for finding us the perfect dog - we are all besotted with him. He is not just helping Noah, but bringing benefits to us all.
Harvey is a special companion for his forever friend Alyssa who was trained on our bespoke training programme.
"Alyssa and Harvey are a match made in heaven!
The bonding they had before his training had already made a huge impact on Alyssa, because Harvey made her happy, helped her settle down and be calm, but was also a fun friend to chase and play with. Since Harvey has had his Autism Life Dog training, not only is Alyssa more confident with a fun routine to play games with him, and from his presence when we're out and about, but Harvey is more confident too.
He knows how important his role is, and he is so intuitive with her. He can initiate play, he can encourage her to engage with him, and he looks out for her when we're out and about. He's not just there to lead her along the way, he tunes into her and focuses on her completely. He's still so young and playful, but this doesn't stop him making sure that he looks after her and makes her happy.
I can't wait to see how their relationship grows and changes as they both get older and build their relationship even more. This year is a big year, we've just moved house and Alyssa is starting primary school in August. We've just been amazed at the influence Harvey has had on her, and situations that she would have found almost impossible to cope with before like the big transitions we're facing this year have been so much easier with Harvey knowing what to do with Alyssa to help her regulate and distract her when she's getting upset.
We're so glad we found Autism Life Dogs, and we recommend them to anyone who asks us about Harvey. We couldn't be happier with Harvey's training, and the support and knowledge of the team has been second to none. Thank you so much, Danielle and Amanda, we couldn't have got to where we are today without you."
Spyro is a lovely boy who trained on our bespoke training programme and now supports his best friend Hannah at university.
"When we came to Autism Life Dogs, Spyro and I had already been together for a year. Since his training, the difference has been incredible.
Spyro has helped me in so many ways, when he first arrived I was living alone, struggling to leave my home and to take care of myself. With my trusty steed by my side, I've managed to complete my first year at University. Public spaces have become so much easier, Spyro provides a strong point of focus and calming influence which has reduced a once crippling level of social anxiety.
He is infectiously good-natured and having a companion I can communicate with entirely non-verbally is invaluable during more difficult times. Autism Life Dogs have been supportive throughout the process, so much was achieved during his training period and without their help, I would have struggled to maintain my place at University. Assistance dogs can make an unbelievable amount of difference to an individual with autism, no matter their age and Autism Life Dogs have made me feel supported and comfortable throughout. Thank you for all your help!"
Timmy has recently started his new life with his forever family and even in a short time has brought many smiles and much love.
"We've had Timmy for 9 weeks and he's settled in well!
The team have been fantastic and always on hand to answer any questions we have. When we had our intensive training our family trainer Amanda just amazed us how easy to lead and command him - you can tell how much effort goes into each dog and love.
Already Timmy has enriched our family and I love sending pictures.
Thank you from our family!"
Dougie is a gorgeous boy and forever best friend.
"Dougie has helped not only Mccauley but the whole family.
From the first initial phone call and receiving the information we knew pretty much there and then how much we needed an autism support dog/forever friend for our son. My son has traits of autism but officially he is diagnosed with inverted duplication of chromosome 8p, the condition results in him having severe learning disabilities and poor mobility along with anxieties around large crowds and busy noisy places.
We arranged to meet up with Amanda to spend time with her son's support dog Rufus, The change in Mccauley that day was incredible we were amazed how he interacted with Rufus throwing a ball and wanting to run around.
I know that doesn't sound much but to us it was an emotional time, we knew then this was definitely going to work for us.
We were matched up with Dougie our beautiful boy soon afterwards and then the training began. Amanda was brilliant - not only was she professional but she made us as a family feel at ease, we feel like we have made good friends in her and even now like to catch up and give her feedback about our progress.
Dougie arrived with us in August - he has become an incredible support and best friend for Mccauley. We have had lots of fun days out on the beach and park, as well as weekly shopping trips - something we previously struggled with. Mccauley suffers with several melt downs throughout the day, but with Dougie by his side they seem less frequent. Dougie stays with him and definitely as a calming effect.
We couldn't imagine our life without him now, we would definitely recommend Autism Life Dogs to anyone thinking about getting their very own support dog.
Thank you for changing our lives."
Our handsome boy known as 'Mr D' has been with his forever family since December 2017 and has been working his magical ways supporting his best friend.
"We are pleased to say that Dexter has settled into our family very well and has great great fun playing with the children.
Although it is going to take time for a strong bond to form, Dexter is already having a huge impact on his life. The main things that Dexter is helping with at present are trips out to the shop and sleeping.
Before we had Dexter, L would become distressed in the shops and we would usually have to put him in the trolley to calm him. Now he has Dexter to hold onto he is much calmer in the shop. He does run off occasionally but he is more manageable.
With regard to sleeping, Dexter goes into bed with L and has been a great help getting him to settle and go to sleep as he lays on him by providing the "squish technique". L used to get out of bed repeatedly, sometimes for hours before going to sleep and with Dexter's presence seems to help him drift off.
He has already made the whole family more active encouraging us to go out on days when the weather would have put us off.
We would like to thank Autism Life Dogs and particularly our trainer Amanda for accepting us onto the programme and bringing Dexter into our lives".